By Noah Kaufman
Updated January 07, 2015
© Gregory Leary / Alamy

Virtual reality is invading the food world with one mission: to stop us from consuming too many excess calories. The Kokiri Lab, a hackerspace in downtown Los Angeles, is launching a VR experience called Project Nourished that will let participants “experience fine dining without concern for caloric intake or other health-related issues.”

The minds behind Project Nourished use a variety of methods to trick your brain into believing you’re actually eating. VR goggles set your eyes in a fine-dining restaurant, various flavor compounds trick your tongue and aromatic diffusions fool your nose. But that still leaves the problem of what you’re actually putting in your mouth. This is where it gets disturbing.

The experience relies on hydrocolloids—naturally derived, low-calorie substances like agar and pectin that can take on a variety of textures—so you can actually chew stuff during this "meal." If the experience of imagining food and pretending to eat it sounds familiar, it's because the team took the idea from a Peter Pan scene in the movie Hook. Humorous origins aside, Kokiri Lab’s founder, Jinsoo An, has serious aspirations for the company's innovation. He hopes the project could help fight obesity, heart disease and diabetes by curbing calories and cravings. “By merging the physicality of molecular gastronomy with virtual reality, we can finally enjoy any food we want in a whole new way,” he says.

Project Nourished will host multi-course tasting events open to the public in the near future. Stay tuned here.